Concocted by my almost-2½-year-old daughter, it started after Dinosaur Week at school. She had to bring in a stuffed dino (we brought in Sully from “Monsters, Inc.”), and they learned all sorts of cool facts, played games and read books.
Clearly, this theme week supercharged Amelia’s imagination. Her broccoli now morphs into trees, and she growls as she devours the fluffy tops off them. “Rawr, I’m a dinosaur, Mommy,” she mumbles in a low voice across the dinner table from her white booster seat.
(I’m all for it … that’s two extra vegetables Dino Mia just inhaled.)
I have to admit my husband, Brent, and I have exploited the new found love of all things dinosaur just a little bit.
Won’t wash her hands after using the potty?
(Dinosaurs washtheirhands after they use the dino potty.)
Throwing a temper tantrum because bedtime is the end of the world?
(I think I just heard the dinosaur in our kitchen say goodnight to his Mommy.)
Which brings me back to the game that we play Every. Single. Night. Whenever there’s a lull in the action (cleaning up dinner or when Brent and I are engrossed in a conversation), wide-eyed Mia will scream with her eyebrows touching her hairline, “Mommy, there’s a dinosaur coming!”
We stop mid-sentence, turn to her and yell, “ahhhhhh, run, run!”
With 8-month-old Gabriella in tow, the four of us scurry into Mia’s room followed by our trotting beagle,
We wait. We stare at each other, our mouths dropped open just slightly.
“Amelia, where’s the dinosaur?” I whisper, peeking out her bedroom door.
“I don’t know, Mommy,” she responds in an indignant tone.
“You don’t know? Should we go see if we can find him.”
Cue the slow-motion tip-toe out of her bedroom, down the hall and around the corner to the kitchen.
“There he is, Mommy! He’s in the kitchen eatin.’ He hungry.”
“He’s hungry? What’s he eating?”
“Nothing, Mommy. He just lookin’ at us.”
And the conversation travels in any random direction from there, usually followed by Mia shouting, “Do it again! Do it again!”
After the girls are in dreamland, Brent and I rehash the night filled with pretend dinosaurs, silly sayings and who Amelia prayed for that night.
The usual suspects are on her “God Bless” list, grandparents, friends and Ee-ee (her stuffed monkey).
Our Catholic faith has been part of her life and Gabriella’s life since they were born. We say Grace before meals, we attend Mass on Sundays and pray before bedtime. I don’t write this to give myself a metaphorical pat on the back. I write this because I struggle with faith every day.
I worry about being a full-time working mom and sending them to day care. I wonder about how Amelia sees the world. And I hope that she finds the goodness in today’s world, in spite of itself.
The what-ifs are sometimes so consuming that I forget about living in the present with my beautifully happy family. When bad things happen to good people (particularly with the recent rash of violence), it’s difficult to brush the worries aside. Instead, I cling to my faith.
Sometimes, that’s all we have. And by “all,” I mean the Big Guy Upstairs, who has a plan for each and every one of us. I re-commit myself to giving my girls the courage to believe in God and foster their hope and imagination, even with dinosaurs. Without imagination and faith, there is little hope.
As we start to put away Christmas and look forward to 2013, I hope to carry the spirit and the miracle of Christ’s birth through these next 12 months. There are undoubtedly great times and tough times ahead of us. And a little faith, imagination and hope can go a long way.
Laura Burkey is mom to 2½-year-old Amelia, 8-month-old Gabriella, 7-year-old Lucy the beagle, and wife of four years to Brent.